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When I found out that I was to have a baby, my feelings were somewhere between being ecstatic and having deep sorrow.  I was unwed, already with a two year old son, struggling to make ends meet.  I struggled to put my 'mother instincts' aside and make a decision that would best meet the needs of my unborn child.  After many sleepless nights and tear filled days, I made the decision to place my child up for adoption.  The only thing that kept my sanity was the knowledge that my child would have all the things that I could not give to him. 
After speaking with my attorney, Ralph Atwell, I left finding the right adoptive parents up to him.  Within days he had me come to his office to discuss the couple he had found.  All the information he gave me was that the adoptive father was a high ranking military person and the adoptive mother was a high ranking official in a major corporation.  Through the days to come, the attorney talked about the legality of out-of-town adoptions and he, which I believe to be a 'slip of the tongue' said, "Adoption laws in "Maryland", I mean "Florida" is...."  Therefore I believe that the people adopting my son were living in Maryland at the time.  I was told that the adoptive mother's parents lived in/around the Mobile, AL area.  I was told that these people were going to tell the child that he was adopted and should he decide to search for me, would I be willing for him to contact me.  I said of course, that I was not 'giving him away', but 'giving him a better life than what I could offer'. 
The day he was born, February 28, 1983 in Pensacola, Fl at Sacred Heart Hospital, my cousin had given birth to her son.  Seeing them together caused me to question my decision.  I went to the nursery and asked to see my son.  I spent several hours holding him and searching my heart and soul for strength to go through with the adoption.  The lawyer and his secretary, Sue Lord, had already been to see me and had me sign over my rights, allowing the adoption to proceed. 
The next day, after a sleepless night, I knew that I could not go through with the adoption. I might not be able to give him all he wants, but I had a heart full of love to offer. I called Sue Lord and told her.  She told me that the adoptive parents had already been to the hospital to see the baby, had held him, fed him and that maybe I should think about them and the pain I'd cause if I didn't proceed with the adoption instead of thinking of myself.  One hour later, my doctor, B. L. Stalnaker, came to my hospital room and told me that he had talked with Sue and that he felt that I just needed to 'get out of here', meaning the hospital, that being apart from the baby would help me realize that my decision to place the baby up for adoption was for the best.  Through deep sobs I did as I was told. 
The next day I left the hospital and while doing so, I saw this very attractive woman standing near the nursery and she was watching very intently as I left.  Upon entering the elevator, my attorney along with this tall, dark haired, stately looking man also entered.  Mr. Atwell said hello to me, asked if I was leaving and through tears, I said yes.  When we exited the elevator, something inside of me just knew that the gentleman with Mr. Atwell was the man who my son would call Dad.  I asked Mr. Atwell to deliver a message for me to the adoptive parents.  The message was "Please take care of my son, let him know that his birth mother loved him and that he will always be in my heart."
I have but one picture of him that I cherish.  I named him Dustin Paul Patrick.  He had blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes.  He weighed 7 lb., 7 oz. and was born between 7:00am and 7:30am.
I have been searching since he turned 18 and every step I've taken forward, I've had to take two steps backwards.  It is not my intent to disrupt his life or to cause worry to the adoptive parents.  I simple wish to see the man he has become, to know that the decision I made was indeed the correct one.  Most of all, the need to find my son has intensified since we have gone to war with Iraq.  Does one of the names I read in the paper of those who have been killed belong to the son I gave birth to?   I pray not. 
Was placing him up for adoption the right choice?  For me, no, never.  For him, only he can answer that question.
To find the son I gave birth to...to hear his voice...to see his face...to know that he is well and happy is all I can think of. 
Where are you my beloved son?
Paula Haller